Animal Welfare Organisations Unite to Protect the Public from Dodgy Pet Sellers

  • 1,000 new adverts for pets appear online every day in the U
  • 37% of people admit to doing no research before purchase
  • Over 10% of people reported their pet became unwell after purchase, and nearly 20% had to pay unexpected vet bills

A new advisory website has been launched to help the British public buy a healthy pet, and to clamp down on online adverts from unscrupulous, and often criminal, pet sellers.

The UK’s top animal welfare organisations, veterinary and industry bodies have come together to stop Britain’s animal lovers being duped into buying pets advertised online by dodgy pet sellers.

A coalition group of top animal welfare organisations, veterinary and industry bodies have launched as the definitive guide to help equip the public with the knowledge to buy a pet responsibly

The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG), a group comprising of the country’s top welfare organisations, trade associations and veterinary bodies – including Dogs Trust, PDSA, British Veterinary Association, Cats Protection, City of London Trading Standards, Reptile and Exotic Pet Trade Association, RSPCA and Scottish SPCA – are uniting against online adverts from unscrupulous, and often criminal, pet sellers who make a good living pedaling pets that are often sick, underage or have been illegally imported into the UK.

PAAG’s latest research* into the British public’s pet purchasing behaviour has found that 37% of people admitted they did no research before buying, and, with 1,000 new online pet adverts appearing every day**, the group has launched a new advisory website – – to arm the public with the knowledge to spot an untrustworthy ad or scam, and the confidence to ask the right questions to ensure they are dealing with a responsible seller. is the definitive source of advice and information for the public – directly from some of the UK’s most respected welfare animal organisations, industry bodies and experts – and focuses on the research prospective owners should do before they buy, and what they can expect from pet ownership. It will be updated regularly with scams to be aware of and will provide a place for anyone to confidentially report suspicious websites or traders.

Since it was formed in 2001, PAAG has been working tirelessly to tackle the thousands of underhand online animal sellers.

Survey results showed that nearly half of the British public admitted to being unaware that regulations for the buying and selling of animals online even existed, or that commercial pet sellers are now required by law to be inspected and licensed by their Local Authority. PAAG experts fear that the issues we are seeing now are just the tip of the iceberg, and it has become far too easy for Britain’s animal lovers to be deceived.

Chair of PAAG, the group behind, Paula Boyden***, says:

“We’re a nation of animal lovers, making us an easy target for unscrupulous sellers. Our research has found that we live in a click-first society where people will often head to online adverts for a pet because they can choose based on the best price, nearest location and how quickly they can get the animal they want. They are inundated with cute pictures and great offers which are very difficult to turn down. But, as we’ve seen time and time again, when an advert seems too good to be true it probably is.

“Many of these sellers are underhand, putting profit before welfare. The public – who have the best intentions and want to give an animal a loving home – are not at fault; is designed to protect them; to help stop people becoming a victim of a scam and to eliminate their chance of ending up with a sick pet, huge veterinary bills and heartbreak. We want our website to become the first step in their journey to getting a happy, healthy pet.”

The website also tells people what they should expect when they visit their new pet for the first time.

Alongside its public advice, PAAG is continuing its work with a number of classified websites including Gumtree, Pets4Homes and PreLoved to remove illegal adverts, and is pushing for all websites to commit to a set of minimum guidelines which all of their animal adverts should adhere to, ensuring all pets being advertised are done so legally and ethically.

Paula continues:

“We want the day to come when people are confident regarding the authenticity of an advert or seller. We are working hard today, to ensure the pet owners of tomorrow can buy a happy, healthy pet knowing it has been bred responsibly and the person they are buying from can be trusted.

“We would always encourage people to look at rehoming a rescue animal, but if you do decide to buy from a breeder, make sure you do your research to ensure you’re buying from a trustworthy source.”

If anyone spots a suspicious or illegal advert and wants to know what to do, please visit

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REVIEW: The Fragrance-Free Air Freshener

We’re reviewing Oderase, the no-smell air freshener, which is exclusively available from Ocado.

Let us tell you that this fragrance-free, odour erasing bathroom spray is a revelation. Primarily a bathroom spray (for reasons we won’t go into here…), Oderase by husband and wife team Aqdot, can also be used extremely effectively to blitz unwanted smells, odours, litle accidents perpetrated by your pet!

The spray uses a new technology, developed by scientists and innovators at Aqdot, a company originally spun out of the Cambridge University, to instantly eliminate bad smells. Oderase effectively clears bad smells by capturing bad odour molecules and erasing them from the air.

Simply spray the pump action non-aerosol spray at the bad smell, and hey presto, within seconds it is gone. There is none of that sickly sweet air freshener smell – or ‘lavender’, ‘white linen’ etc – left behind to linger for hours; instead there’s a lovely non-offensive or sick-making clean smell of absolutely nothing.

Oderase is priced at £4.99 for 100ml, or £3.99 for a limited time only. Each bottle contains up to 500 spritzes. It is currently exclusively available in Ocado.

The product has already been endorsed by the independent testing organisations Allergy UK and the Good House Keeping Institute.

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One In Three Pet Owners Have Been Alerted To Danger By Their Pet

One in three pet owners have been alerted to danger – by their furry friends, according to a study.

Researchers who polled 2,000 pet owners found their animals have warned them of hazards including fires and carbon monoxide leaks.

One in 10 even claimed their cat or dog has directly saved their life or the life of someone they know.

The study was commissioned by npower to raise awareness of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and the symptoms to look out for.

CO poisoning often affects pets first sparking vomiting, tiredness and erratic behaviour, giving their owners an early warning sign.

However 40 per cent of those polled admitted they wouldn’t be able to recognise the symptoms of CO poisoning.

Matthew Cole, spokesman for npower, said: “You can’t see, smell or taste a carbon monoxide leak so it’s important to be aware of this potentially fatal danger in the home.

“Common household appliances like boilers, gas fires, log burners and cookers can all cause accidental exposure.

“So it’s important that people understand the symptoms of CO poisoning and if you notice any symptoms in combination go outside immediately and seek help.”

Those polled also revealed some of the ways their animals have saved them – or their loved ones – from potentially fatal injuries.

One parent called for an ambulance after their pet barked repeatedly to let them know their one year old baby was having a convulsion.

Another owner revealed their dog woke them during the night while they were having a potentially lethal hypoglycaemic attack.

A grateful respondent said their dog became agitated following a CO leak – alerting their owner to the leak, saving the life of the owner and their family.

Carried out through, the research also found one in 10 aren’t aware a leak can be fatal.

Further to this, a third of those polled don’t own a CO detector in their home.

A fifth of those without one simply don’t think they need one, 27 per cent said they haven’t gotten round to purchasing one and one in 10 think they are too expensive.

Matthew Cole added: “Log burners are really popular at the moment and they’re especially dangerous – one of the most dangerous things you can have in your house.

“But the easiest way to keep your family safe is to install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, which will alert you if it detects the presence of gas.

“You should also make sure to keep your household appliances regularly serviced and maintained.”

* For further information about carbon monoxide safety click here []

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5 Actionable Winter Grooming Tips for Your Dog

If you happen to be a dog owner, you would know how similar pet keeping is to looking after a baby. Dog grooming routines vary from season to season. While it is common to think that your dog would stay clean on its own since their outdoor activity is limited, you will do more harm than benefit by doing so.

To keep your dog safe from the harsh dry winters, its best that you follow a proper hygiene routine, even stricter than one in other seasons. Here, we discuss 5 simple tips to keep your dog well groomed during winter.

1. Regular Brushing

Double coated and untrimmed dogs need to be brushed regularly to keep them from trapping dust and dirt in the hair that gets tangled over time. For this you need to get the right grooming brush that suits your dog’s hair type best. Brushing regularly keeps your dog’s skin nourished by distributing their naturally excreted oils.

Brushing your dog regularly also keeps you aware of any abnormalities that may develop on your dog’s body in the form of lumps or sores. Always check for such symptoms that may be a result of an infection or illness.

2. Moisturizing

Cracked paws and skin infections are a common occurrence among dogs in winters. To prevent the dry weather from getting to your dog, you can always get medication and take a few precautionary measures. After each outing, make sure to wipe their paws with a dry towel. If you often forget to do so, always keep a towel by the door, making it a routine to dry feet before you enter.

Moisturizing balms and creams also help in healing cracked pads that might get infected if not treated on time.

3. Trim nails regularly

Your dog’s nails are prone to wearing down on their own during summer time since they spend a lot of time playing outside, which is why you don’t get to trim their nails on a regular basis. However, winters are completely different, especially when it comes to nails.

Since playing outdoors becomes limited or minimal during winters, the wear and tear that happened naturally doesn’t take place anymore. This is why you’ll need to trim your dog’s nails more regularly. Once you start to hear the clicking sound as they walk on the floors, it’s time to trim the nails.

4. Don’t forget to bathe them

Like humans, dogs need to be bathed regularly as well, regardless of being covered with fur and hair. Dry winters can take their toll on your dog’s skin as well, however bathing them regularly with moisturizing shampoos and conditioners can definitely help keep their skin healthy.

Not only does this keep their fur healthy, but also makes brushing the hair relatively easier. Do not use human shampoos on dog skin as it do a great deal of damage, since it contains chemicals that are not to make contact with their skin.

5. Say no to haircuts

Winter haircuts are a big No. Your dog’s fur and hair is the insulating layer that protects them from the harshness of winters and sunburns of the scorching summer sun. Getting their hair trimmed during winters leaves them exposed and more prone to catch a cold, especially older dogs.

However, for some breeds with tangled hair and mats, its hard not to get their hair trimmed. Therefore, if you do happen to own a dog of a certain breed with mats, its imperative to get a trim since mats can’t be combed out without pain.

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3 Things To Consider When You Get A Dog

Having a dog is a great thing to do, and in many ways brings a lot of joy into your daily life for many years. But you obviously should not rush into such a decision, as it is an important decision to make and not something to do lightly. In fact, there are a few things in particular which you will need to think about if you are hoping to get a dog, so that you can make sure that you are genuinely ready for one in your life.

In this article, we are going to take a look at what some of those considerations might be, so that you can much more effectively and fully make good of getting a dog in your life. Let’s take a look and see what you might want to consider.

Is Your Home Ready?

First of all, you will want to make sure that your home is ready for a pooch, and that can be a little like getting a home ready for a new child. In the same way that you have to go childproofing a home for a baby’s arrival, you need to dog proof your home too. That means clearing it of anything dangerous that they might eat or drink or play with, and ensuring that there is plenty enough space for them to roam around enough in. By getting the home ready first of all, you can then ensure that you are truly ready for the new dog to come in to the house and hopefully be as happy as possible. You should also ensure that there is a good spot for them to lay, hopefully and ideally a dog bed, and that you have found a good spot for their food and water bowls.

Are You Able To Walk Them?

We all know that this is one of the main concerns of getting a dog, and with good reason. They do need a lot of walking, and you need to make sure that you are going to be able to do that as much as necessary if you are going to look after them as well as possible. That is something that needs considering, based on your lifestyle and how much time you think you can spare each day. Depending on the breed, you might need to talk them anywhere up to four times a day, so this is definitely something to be aware of. You should also make sure that you have got a decent quality collar, perhaps leather dog collars, before you bring them home – and a lead, of course.

Can You Afford It?

We’re not just talking the upfront cost here, although that is important too. You want to be able to ensure that you can really afford looking after a dog, even if that means that you are going to be a little tight for a while. As long as you feel you can afford it, then it is much more likely to be the kind of thing you need to do, so this is important to consider.

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The Most Common Pet Issues

By Dr Deepti Sharma BVSc MRCVS; a vet on Channel 4’s new series ‘Embarassing Pets’

People will often ask me what pet issues I see regularly. As a general rule in Veterinary Medicine, ‘common things are common’. This means that with the exception of some illnesses, most of the time there will be a handful of cases that I see all the time.


The most common pet issue that I see are the notorious fleas. Pet owners tend to have mixed knowledge on how to treat these parasites and are often in denial that their beloved fur baby could have parasites. Generally, the pet will present with areas of alopecia (hair loss) associated with itching, gnawing or over grooming. The pet and environment will have been treated with over the counter medication from a pet shop or online and the owner will be perplexed as to what is causing these skin lesions.

Unfortunately, over the counter flea treatments and environmental medicines do not work against these creepy crawlies and can be a complete waste of time, effort and money. A Veterinary licensed flea treatment and household spray is the most effective way to treat this common pet issue. Educating owners to treat their pets with the correct type of product is always the key to solving this dermatological mystery.

Cat Fight Wounds

Another common pet issue I see regularly is cat fight wounds. Without the exception of begging for food, cats on the whole tend to take care of themselves pretty well. Our friendly feline companions will only exhibit signs and symptoms of illness when they are truly very unwell. It can be a surprise for owners petting their cats to suddenly see them jump up when touched in a specific area. Sometimes the owners may see a large oozing mass on their cat or even have the pleasure of smelling a foul odour on their hand after petting them. Fighting amongst outdoor cats is very common and cat bites are like an injection of bacteria. Rapidly these wounds can develop into abscesses due to the proliferation of bacteria and thus we see pus. As horrendous as this sounds, they are very easily treatable by a trip to the Veterinarian and heal quickly.

Pet Obesity

Obesity in our pets is also a very common pet issue I see regularly. It can be irresistible to refrain from giving our pets treats when we see how much they enjoy them. However, we are contributing to their caloric intake and weight gain. Obesity in domestic pets is very common and should be taken very seriously. It is a contributing factor for so many illnesses, to name a few these would include diabetes, heart disease, joint and mobility issues. Although, treating our pets with food may feel like a way to show our affection it is vital to understand that treats do not need to always be food based. A treat can be anything that will influence our pets positively. Examples of this would include verbal affection, a new enriching toy or a walk. These are all calorie free ways to show our pets we love them and ultimately care about their weight and therefore their health too.

‘Embarrassing Pets’, Weekdays at 5:30pm on Channel 4

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New Study Shows Benefits of Horseback Riding Therapy for Children with Autism

Children with autism spectrum have immediate and long-term benefits from therapeutic horseback riding, researchers show.

In the first large, randomized study of its kind, researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have shown a lasting reduction in irritability and other positive social and communication impacts on  children with autism spectrum through therapeutic horse riding.

“There is growing evidence that human-animal interventions can improve emotional health and social wellness in youth, particularly those with autism spectrum disorder,” said the study’s principal investigator and lead author Robin Gabriels, PsyD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Our study was rigorous and the findings remarkable.”

The initial report of the researchers’ randomized study of therapeutic horseback riding (THR) with 127 children ages 6 to 16 years was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in 2015. It was the first to show that participating in 10-weeks of THR resulted in significant improvements in irritability, hyperactivity, social skills and word fluency compared to a barn activity control group that met at the riding center to learn about horses, but had no direct interaction with horses.

The researchers then did a 6-month follow-up of 44% of the participants from that initial study, published in a recent special issue of Frontiers in Veterinary Science. The study was the first to demonstrate that the initial benefits of 10-weeks of THR in this same population can have lasting benefits.

Specifically, this follow-up study revealed that the THR group maintained their reductions in irritability, but not hyperactivity compared to the children who just learned about horses at the riding center. At the same time, when examining just the THR group, the results indicated that children sustained their initial significant improvements in social communication and word fluency.

The research provides evidence to show that THR may be an intervention that leads to the longer-term maintenance of initial benefits gained from equine therapy.

Yet the physiological mechanisms behind this remain to be discovered.

Some theorize that children diagnosed with autism spectrum might gravitate toward horseback riding because they are more comfortable with familiar routines.

“Horses are known to prefer the same routine, the same stall, the same path or route, and the same habits, similar to children with autism,” wrote L. Eugene Arnold, MD, MEd, of The Ohio State University in an editorial in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry about Gabriels’ 2015 study. “More importantly, horses are content to be guided by nonverbal communication but are amenable to verbal instruction, allowing children to experience and practice the power of communication by controlling a much stronger force than themselves in ways within their repertoire.”

He also noted that a horse’s rhythmic stride can have a calming effect on the brain.

The study indicates that human interaction with animals can be beneficial on multiple levels.

“Most pet owners are only too aware of the ‘feel-good factor’ associated with pets in their lives. The important thing is that there is also a growing body of measurable scientific evidence showing the emotional, social and psychological benefits of interacting with animals,” said Dr. Darren Logan, Head of Research at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, a division of Mars Petcare that has partnered with the National Institutes of Health Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) for the past 10 years to study human-animal interaction.

“This impressive study, part of our partnership with NICHD, adds to this evidence and provides a positive indicator of how animal-assisted therapy can play a role in improving the developmental outcomes of children and youth in the future.”

Dr. Gabriels, a licensed clinical psychologist who practices at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said that based on these findings, THR might be a safe and effective adjunct intervention for treating children with autism, and one that might help reduce the need for higher medication doses to address symptoms of irritability within this population.

“This is just the beginning,” she said. “We hope to conduct additional studies aimed at getting a better understanding of how exactly this form of therapy seems to benefit those with autism.”

The study’s co-authors include: Zhaoxing Pan; Noemie A. Guerin; Briar Dechant and Gary Mesibov.

Case Study

Buckinghamshire resident and mum, Naomi Masters, first heard about therapeutic horseback riding through her son Rupert’s school. Rupert (age 10) was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and often has difficulty expressing his thoughts and emotions if distressed. Naomi had heard about the potential benefits of animal assisted therapy and began bringing Rupert to after-school sessions at Equicate, a local equine-facilitated learning initiative, in June 2018.

At first, Naomi was concerned that Rupert, who has grown up around farm animals, may not take to horses so well, as their temperaments can be quite different to smaller animals. She needn’t have worried however, as the experience has been incredibly positive. ‘Rupert has always liked horses, and he is able to really “switch off” and relax around them’, says Naomi. ‘It’s a very relaxed environment, and there’s been a noticeable improvement in his temperament and confidence when at the yard, as well as a reduction in his anxiety.’

Naomi notes that on the days where Rupert is reminded he is riding after school, he tries harder in classes, as he realises that his behaviour and efforts at school can correlate to how enjoyable his experience is at the yard with the horses. ‘After he has spent an enjoyable afternoon there, he is calmer, and his behaviour is more relaxed into the evening’ explains Naomi. ‘Although he still struggles to express his emotions and thoughts verbally when he’s distressed, there has been a visible improvement in his physical responses in certain situations, and his reactions in unfamiliar social settings with others are becoming less adverse.’

Although 10-year-old Rupert has only been involved in the therapy for a few months, Naomi is already a strong advocate for its positive benefits and would encourage parents in a similar situation to consider exploring the potential of therapeutic horseback riding.

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Posthumous Honour for Australian War Dog

Corporal Mark Donaldson, VC, with Australian Army special operations military working dog ‘Odin’, at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, who accepted the award on behalf of Kuga.

A Military Working Dog who served with the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in Australia has received the animals’ VC for his remarkable actions while on duty in Afghanistan, in 2011.

Special Operations Military Working Dog (SOMWD) Kuga was posthumously awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal at a special ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Kuga is the first Australian dog to receive the PDSA Dickin Medal in its 75-year history.

PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin said “Kuga’s actions undoubtedly saved the lives of his patrol. He took on the enemy without fear, saving his comrades despite suffering serious injury, and is a thoroughly deserving recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.”

Belgian Malinois Kuga has been posthumously recognised for his actions during Operation Slipper in the Khas Uruzgan district of Afghanistan. Kuga indicated the presence of an enemy ambush, concealed among trees alongside a river. Kuga swam into the river to apprehend the enemy and, in doing so, was shot five times. He survived and was returned home to Australia, though he died less than a year later.

Whilst in Australia on other business, the formal presentation was made by PDSA Trustee Mary Reilly to Kuga’s canine colleague, retired Military Working Dog Odin. Corporal Mark Donaldson – the recipient of the Victoria Cross for his actions in Afghanistan – received Kuga’s medal on behalf of the regiment.

The world-renowned PDSA Dickin Medal was introduced by PDSA’s founder, Maria Dickin CBE, in 1943. It is the highest award any animal can achieve while serving in military conflict.

Kuga’s Story

Canine hero: Military working dog ‘Kuga’

Kuga was born on 23 April 2007 and began his development training with the SASR in January 2008, aged eight months.

He was teamed with his handler in April 2009 and, in June 2010, they were deployed to Afghanistan on their first tour, where Kuga performed exceptionally, with his endless drive to work and courage being well recognised.

On 26 August 2011, during their second tour, Kuga and his handler were part of a Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) troop conducting a mission to capture a senior Taliban insurgent in the Khas Uruzgan district.

After landing by helicopter near a target compound, the unit began their patrol. Kuga and his handler were located next to the river. Kuga was instructed to search for concealed insurgents or improvised explosive devices (IEDs) located along the river’s edge. As the patrol moved closer to the target compound, Kuga indicated an enemy presence and moved down towards the river.

As Kuga entered the water and swam across the river to the opposite bank, he was targeted and injured by bursts of automatic fire. His handler moved into position to support Kuga while he continued to swim, undeterred, by the close-range fire. After reaching the bank, he charged towards a small tree line where his handler was able to identify the enemy’s location and witnessed an insurgent firing at Kuga at close range.

While apprehending the insurgent, Kuga was shot again, causing him to lose his grip. During the incident, Kuga was shot five times: twice in the ear, once in the toe, once in the cheek (which exited through the neck) and once in the chest, which exited the shoulder and broke his upper-left leg. Kuga also received shrapnel wounds to his lower spine.

Despite his injuries, Kuga swam back across the river when recalled by his handler, who administered emergency first aid and requested a helicopter medical evacuation for him. Kuga was subsequently treated in Afghanistan and Germany, before returning to Australia for further treatment and rehabilitation.

Kuga passed away in kennels on 24 July 2012 and although inconclusive, it was believed that his body succumbed to the stress placed upon him due to the injuries sustained in the incident. Kuga’s death is officially recorded as ‘Died of Wounds’.

Commenting on Kuga’s PDSA Dickin Medal, the charity’s Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said: “If it wasn’t for Kuga detecting the concealed enemy position, his patrol would have walked into an ambush with inevitable loss of life. He showed great skill and courage when it mattered most, despite suffering serious injury.

“For his bravery and devotion to duty on that day, we are honoured to present Kuga with the 71st PDSA Dickin Medal.”

Corporal Mark Donaldson VC accepted the award on the regiment’s behalf. Corporal Donaldson said: “Kuga’s actions that day in Afghanistan were heroic. There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that he saved lives. He just wouldn’t give up on his mates and doing his job.

“Kuga and the other military working dogs in Afghanistan saved countless lives, whether they were finding IEDs or tipping us off to an enemy presence before we’d seen them. Kuga’s PDSA Dickin Medal is for the all military working dogs who worked alongside us in Afghanistan and every day since.”

PDSA Trustee Mary Reilly made the formal presentation of Kuga’s Medal to Corporal Donaldson VC, in front of members of the SASR and the Australian Military. Mary said: “It is a huge honour to gather with Kuga’s comrades and friends to present him with this prestigious award. His story embodies everything that the medal stands for. I hope his PDSA Dickin Medal is a fitting tribute to his service and memory.”

The PDSA Dickin Medal is a large, bronze medallion bearing the words “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve” all within a laurel wreath. The ribbon is striped green, dark brown and sky blue representing water, earth and air to symbolise the naval, land and air forces.

Kuga is the 71st recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal and the first Australian dog to receive the honour. Previously, two World War II messenger pigeons serving with the Australian signals Corps were awarded the Medal in February 1947 for their role in Pacific operations.

Other recipients of the PDSA Dickin Medal include 34 dogs (including Kuga), 32 World War II messenger pigeons, four horses and one cat. For more information about the medal and its recipients, visit

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First Police Dog on Scene of Manchester Arena Attack to be Honoured

PC Phil Healy with Mojo. Picture by Julian Brown / PDSA

The British Transport Police Dog who was first on the scene following the devastating terror attack on Manchester Arena, is to be honoured by leading vet charity PDSA.

Police Dog (PD) Mojo will receive the PDSA Order of Merit at a ceremony later this month, for his devotion to duty under the most horrendous circumstances, on 22 May 2017.

This week, Mojo’s former handler and now owner, PC Phil Healy, was joined by PDSA Director of Fundraising, Nigel Spencer, to announce his forthcoming award.

Discussing Mojo’s award, Nigel said: “Mojo’s actions on that fateful night enabled the emergency services to carry out their vital work, by helping to search and clear the area of potential secondary devices. Mojo worked tirelessly under conditions he’d never experienced before. For that devotion to duty and service to society, PDSA is honoured to recognise him.”

Mojo’s Story…

Picture by Julian Brown / PDSA

On 22 May 2017, Police Dog Mojo and his handler PC Phil Healy had returned home after an early shift. Later that evening, news came through of an explosion at the Arianna Grande concert inside Manchester Arena. Phil and Mojo immediately made their way back to work.

PC Healy explained: “On our way over to the Arena, I heard over the police radio that the explosion had been caused by a detonated device and that many people were injured. We also heard that fatalities were already being confirmed.

“We were the first dog team on the scene and it was very chaotic. Our first task was to search Victoria train station’s concourse, which was being used as the main casualty treatment area for the incident. Mojo searched around the injured victims to make sure that the area was safe and clear of further explosives, for the responding emergency services and the public.”

PC Healy and Mojo were then moved into the Arena itself and to the site of the explosion. Mojo worked in horrendous conditions, searching for secondary devices among the sea of unattended, abandoned items, to secure the area and ensure the safety of the Firearms Units and other attending emergency services working in the area.

PC Healy said: “Mojo was working well but he was somehow different. It was as though he didn’t want to be there, among the carnage that surrounded him. But despite this he worked on, clearing the area so that the Firearms Unit could move out of the area safely.”

PC Healy and Mojo were later joined by other dog teams and together, they searched the whole stadium. Mojo worked alongside his handler until 7am the following morning. On their way home, Mojo and PC Healy were called out again to follow up on reports of a suspicious item elsewhere.

Speaking about Mojo’s award, PDSA Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said: “PD Mojo worked tirelessly through unimaginable scenes of destruction and utter chaos. His role on the night was to make others safe – members of the public along with the responding emergency services, who each had their vital part to play. His dedication to duty, despite clearly being distressed by what he saw, makes him a deserving recipient of the PDSA Order of Merit.”

Mojo retired from British Transport Police duties in August this year, but his service will always be remembered.

Inspector Paul Miles from British Transport Police nominated Mojo for the award. He said: “I am so proud to see Mojo recognised by PDSA in this way. He acted in the finest traditions of policing, under circumstances that you can never fully train for. PC Healy and Mojo have made a stellar team in their time together and, as Mojo adapts to a life of retirement, it’s a wonderful moment to pause and reflect on his service and actions.”

Phil added: “There is no doubt that what Mojo experienced that night had a lasting effect on him, as it has all of us. His receiving the PDSA Order of Merit is a fitting way to recognise his actions. The ceremony will be emotional – I am extremely proud of him.”

Mojo will receive his PDSA Order of Merit at a special closed event later this month. The ceremony will also recognise the work of Greater Manchester Fire Service dogs, Cracker and Echo, whose awards were announced in August.

Mojo will become the 20th recipient of the PDSA Order of Merit, which, to date, has been awarded to seven dogs and ten horses. For more information about the previous recipients, visit

PDSA’s Animal Awards Programme was instituted in 1943 by the charity’s founder, Maria Dickin. She believed that if animals were recognised for their heroic actions, it would help to raise their status in society, ensuring that they are better treated.

Celebrating its centenary this year, PDSA is the UK’s leading veterinary charity and strives to improve the wellbeing of all pets’ lives through providing preventive care, educating pet owners and treating pets when they become sick or injured. Today, PDSA treats around 470,000 of the UK’s most vulnerable pets a year through our nationwide network of 48 Pet Hospitals. For more information about the charity visit

PDSA is asking the people of Manchester to support their plans to build a brand new Pet Wellbeing Centre, costing £2.4 million, to ensure the charity can help Manchester pets for many years to come. The current PDSA Pet Hospital, in Old Trafford, which treats 12,000 pets every year, has been the charity’s home for over 40 years and desperately needs replacing. For more information on how to support PDSA visit:

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Dalmatian Puppy Finds Forever Home

A poorly puppy bought from online site finally overcomes her fears and finds loving home…

As a puppy she was purchased from an online site but when she became very ill in February this year, her owners could not afford the vet bills and poor Beau was dropped off at an RSPCA centre.

Seven long months later and Beau the dalmatian has now finally been rehomed to loving owner Trudy Kemp.

Trudy, a dalmatian-lover for many years, said: “I lost both of my dalmatians two weeks before I rehomed Beau so she came along at just the right time for me. She’s an absolute poppet, I couldn’t have picked a better dog.”

Beau was nine-months-old when her previous owners brought her to RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre in Chobham after buying her from an online site. She was suffering from parvovirus which can be fatal in puppies and is very contagious to other dogs. She was extremely poorly and bleeding heavily when she arrived on Millbrook’s doorstep and was signed over into RSPCA care.

Her previous owners were told she had been vaccinated but they never saw vaccination cards as proof and four months later, the dalmatian pup became very ill.

Staff at Millbrook had to keep Beau isolated so that she did not make the other 46 dogs in their care poorly. Sadly, despite veterinary staff caring for her as quickly as they could this meant she was in isolation for a month and during that time poor Beau missed out on all the everyday things puppies experience whilst growing up.

Once she had recovered, she was rehomed in April this year but sadly she was brought back to the centre because the family found her behavioural problems too overwhelming. Beau was frightened of doorways, she was fearful of entering the house and new noises, sights and smells all seemed to terrify her. She was scared to go out in the garden and had a tendency to play too roughly.

The staff at Millbrook spent the next six months carrying out behaviour training with Beau to build up her confidence. The centre has a mock-up house called Bounces Retreat which is complete with a TV, radio, kettle and hoover to get dogs used to being in a home environment. With plenty of treats and encouragement they gradually increased the noise of household appliances, keeping Beau calm and happy. She also bonded closely with two kennel staff in particular, Lucy Stinson and Hanna Potbury who made her a snowman and brought it into her isolation kennel so she could still play in the snow.

Then finally Trudy, who lives in Ascot in Berkshire, was told about Beau by her vet and rehomed her in September. Trudy worked for British Dalmatian Welfare for 15 years and has owned about 12 dalmatians herself over the years, as well as helping to rehome over 100 dalmatians to loving owners.

She said: “It was Windlesham Vets who told me about Beau so I went to Millbrook and just fell in love with her. I’ve learnt so much from Dalmatian Welfare that I knew I could help. There is so much she hasn’t experienced which is why she gets so nervous. She missed out on her puppyhood so she is still a bit of a puppy at heart.

“The day she came back with me, she was so nervous coming through the door. I had to pick her up to get her in the car or through the door and now she jumps in the car on her own. I even slept with the door open when she first came home because she was wary of doors but she’s much more confident now. I don’t even need to have her on a lead all the time now, she’s so well behaved.”

Trudy is a mobile hairdresser and Beau, now named Bonnie, goes to work with her everyday so they spend a lot of time together. Trudy also has a retired racing greyhound called Penny and the pair of them get on very well with Bonnie finding reassurance in having another dog around the house.

Trudy continued: “She’s getting better all the time and coming on leaps and bounds. The girls at Millbrook did a fantastic job with her and I’ve carried on her training and just getting her used to all the things she never had the chance to experience as a puppy because she was so poorly. She’s a lovely dog and a typical dalmatian so I’m really glad I’ve been able to give her a loving home, a new sister and a second chance at happiness.”

Joss Iveson, from RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre said: “Poor Beau is a fantastic dog but she had a tough start in life that really had a negative impact on her which meant she had no idea how to be a normal dog. It took a long time and lots of effort to try and build up her confidence and get her used to all the experiences she would encounter in a normal home environment. To Beau, these everyday things were completely alien because she had to be in isolated kennels for an important time in her life when she should have been socialising and being a typical puppy. That is why we are just thrilled that Trudy came along and has helped Beau overcome even more of her fears and given her the loving home she deserves.

“Sadly, we do see people buying puppies online without knowing very much information about them and often this can result in the puppy becoming very ill because they haven’t had the right vaccinations.

“We’d always encourage people to consider a rescue dog but if you are buying a puppy make sure that you see proof of vaccinations, ensure you see the pup with its mum in a home environment and make sure to ask lots of questions to ensure you get a happy and healthy puppy.”

For more information and guidance, use the Puppy Contract on what to look for and how to find a responsible breeder.

What is parvovirus?

Parvovirus can often be a fatal virus for dogs. It mainly affects puppies between six weeks and six months of age – often after they are weaned too early or stressed (e.g by some puppy farming conditions). But it can also affect older dogs which are unvaccinated or have not had regular boosters.

Often the main signs are vomiting and horrid bloody diarrhoea, which can have an awful smell. Dogs become depressed, dehydrated or feverish; they may collapse and it can be painful for them. Puppies who are affected at a very young age can suffer from heart problems and often this can be fatal.

The most important ways to avoid this horrid disease are to make sure you get your dog from a reputable source and make sure they have had their vaccinations – often they need three vaccinations spread a couple of weeks apart. Good breeders and rehoming centres like the RSPCA will do the initial vaccination, and you may need to continue those.


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